Is It Really A Repeal?
By Rev. Lisa Williamson M.D., M.P.H.
Forty-five days into the Trump presidency, some House Congressional Republicans—under the leadership of House Speaker Paul Ryan—have submitted their bill, the “American Health Care Act” (AHCA). The AHCA does not repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) because it retains coverage for pre-existing conditions and parental coverage of children until age 26. Medicaid expansion moves from federal to state oversight. Fines for individuals without health coverage has been eliminated. Tax credits will be given to individuals to assist their ability to afford coverage.
How are we impacted? Under this healthcare bill, if your income is low then your tax credit will be low; therefore, low-income households are at risk of not affording healthcare. The federal funding of Medicaid expansion will be eliminated; therefore, state budgets may not accommodate new applications for Medicaid coverage. Medicaid eligibility will not be income-based but population based. Medicaid coverage will decrease based on state population demand. Simply stated, Medicaid coverage under this bill is limited and restricted. Once again, those living under state poverty guidelines, low-income and under-income households, who depend on state funded healthcare are in jeopardy of losing coverage or not being eligible for coverage.
What does this mean for the church? We have an opportunity to provide preventive health clinics within our church walls. We have an opportunity to partner with local hospitals to provide onsite screenings for at risk families, seniors, and children. We must stay informed on the progress of this bill through the legislative process and hold our local politicians accountable to any part of this bill that negatively impacts our congregations and communities.